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My First Nude Photo Shoot

My First Nude Photo Shoot

Location: San Francisco, CA – Edge Studios
Model: Dylan

I’ve been shooting people for just over a year now, but it’s been almost exclusively in the form of Street Photography. For a while now I’ve wanted to branch out into other types of people-related photography, such as portraits or nudes, and I got my first chance this weekend. I participated in a nude photography workshop at a local studio.

I won’t go into the whole back-story about it, but it was actually kind of a fluke that I found this workshop. Before I signed up I had a hard time finding information, so I signed up knowing very little about how the workshop was going to work, and what exactly the setup was going to be. Now that I’ve been to the studio I can pass on my experiences there. I was also given a URL for the studio, which does have some additional info. I’ll include the link later in this post. I wish I could have found this info before I signed up, as it would have helped.

Although I was excited to do something like this, I was also extremely nervous. Partially because I was going in somewhat blind, but also because I had absolutely no experience working in a studio, or working with models… especially nude models.

The workshop takes place in a large photography studio here in San Francisco, that has been subdivided into 4 smaller studios. Each studio contains a backdrop, lights, some miscellaneous props, and one nude female model.

The models are billed as “experienced”, but in the case of my workshop it was clear that two of the models had far more experience than the other two. I’ve learned that an experienced model can make a world of difference, especially if you have little to no experience yourself. I struggled at times directing the less experienced models.

The workshop is open to up to 12 photographers, that are divided into 4 teams of 3. A team leader is designated based on how many times they’ve participated in this workshop. Each team shoots in each studio for 45 minutes, giving each photographer 15 minutes of dedicated shooting time with each model. At the end of 45 minutes, we took a 15 minute break and then rotated to the next studio.

This is billed as a learning experience, so they encourage you to ask questions of your fellow photographers. The studio owner is also available for assistance with equipment, props, etc…

During the first few minutes of the workshop there is a brief orientation basically explaining everything I just mentioned. They also mentioned that this is NOT gang photography… meaning you can only shoot during your 15 minutes. I was actually scolded by the workshop organizer for breaking this rule. In my defense, I misunderstood what the rule meant. I thought he meant that you could not interfere with that active photographer… getting in the way, distracting the model, etc… I wasn’t doing that. I was taking just a few wider shots from further back, in an attempt to document this experience. But, he said that wasn’t allowed, as I was disrupting “the bond” between photographer and model. While I understand the intent of this rule, I thought it was a little lame in this case. I was being very discrete, and I don’t think the photographer and model could even see me behind the lights. Fortunately I did get one or two of these shots before he told me to stop.

This post is getting a bit long, so I’ll try to cut to the chase. Overall I’m glad I participated in this workshop, and I’ll probably do it again someday. It gave me some good experience, and I learned a fair amount, so I think it was money and time well spent. Although I’m glad I did it, this particular workshop was not as successful as I had hoped. I had a fair amount of trouble during the day. Out of the 200+ photos I shot, I probably have less than 10 that I like. I’ll be posting them as I go through them.

Most of my troubles came from being a nervous newbie. There were several occasions where the model and I found ourselves staring blankly at each other, not sure what the other expected. This will obviously get better as I gain more experience.

I also had some technical troubles as well, mostly stemming from lighting. I’ve never worked with studio lights before. I prefer natural light. I had assumed the lights would be something you could easily move to create a mood… and they would stay on so that you knew what you were shooting. But, the lights used in this workshop were huge pieces of equipment, essentially giant Flashes (shown in the image above). They were activated via a wireless transmitter attached to the hot shue on top of your camera. I was never quite sure what kind of light I would be getting.

I also prefer to use a wider lens. This ended up being a bad choice for this workshop, and maybe for studio shoots in general. The backdrops were only so wide, so they often didn’t fill my frame. In most cases I couldn’t get closer to the model to compensate, because then I was between the model and the giant lights.

Although I’m glad I was able to experience this type of photography, and I would like to learn more about doing it well, I think I’ve determined that studio photography is not my favorite. I would much rather be in a real environment, using primarily natural light.

If you live in the Bay Area, and you want to try your hand at this as well, you can find more information at Edge Studios. They hold the workshop about once a month. It currently runs $180.

[tags]Black & White, People, Nudes, Women, Studio, Dylan[/tags]

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